Leading councillors at Chichester District Council have agreed to introduce a local connection test that must be met by people opting to buy a home as part of the Government’s First Homes Scheme.
The First Homes Scheme was introduced in England by the Government this year. The scheme is designed to help local first time buyers and key workers onto the property ladder by offering homes at a discount of 30% compared to the market price. The idea is to help mortgages and deposits be more affordable.
New residential developments providing affordable housing are now required by the Government to provide a proportion of these as ‘first homes’. It is likely to be around two years before properties classed as First Homes are built in the district and ready to buy.
The Government has allowed individual councils to decide whether or not to introduce a local connection test which prioritises local first time buyers.
Chichester District councillors decided that because of the housing need in the district’s Local Plan area, it would be fairer to introduce a test. The local connection test states that people buying as part of the First Homes scheme should meet one of the following:
- Permanently live within Chichester District; or
- Used to live within Chichester District but was forced to move away because of a lack of affordable housing accommodation; or
- Is permanently employed within Chichester District; or
- Is the parent, sibling or child of a living and permanent resident of Chichester District, as defined by the Housing Act 1996.
“First Homes offer a more affordable route to home ownership and we are really pleased to be playing our role in helping local first time buyers onto the property ladder,” says Councillor Alan Sutton, the council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Communications, Licensing and Events. “Here in Chichester District we have identified that 97 affordable home ownership homes need to be delivered each year to meet current housing need within our Local Plan Area. Because of the demand for this tenure of housing, we decided that it should be prioritised for people with a local connection to the district which is why we have approved the local connection test. We want to ensure that any First Homes built within new developments in our Local Plan area go to meeting the needs of genuine local people and households.
“What is great is that the local connection test will apply for the first three months of the sale, and will also apply on any future sales of the property, forever. This means that the house cannot be sold to someone who doesn’t have a local connection, ensuring that these homes will continue to meet local people’s needs which is good news for our communities.”
First Homes in the district must be sold on a freehold basis at a minimum discount of 30%, and the property cannot initially be sold for more than £250,000 once the discount has been applied. First Homes must also not be sold to households with an annual income of more than £80,000.
People can find out more about the First Homes scheme by going to https://www.ownyourhome.gov.uk/